Posted by: H.P. Ward | October 30, 2012


There has been a gap between posts this time due to the fact that it will be November in less then 48 hours.  NaNoWriMo!!  As I mentioned in the previous post I cannot participate in more than spirit this year, but my spirit is chomping at the bit!

The next 4 weeks the only update will be a weekly hour/word count for the first novel in the trilogy.  (Daily twitter update??).  I’m in the middle of training for my 9-5 (really it is 6-2:30) and I am a bit behind on my character worksheets for some of my characters.

If you’re participating for real of in spirit this November I wish you good luck and great writing!

Posted by: H.P. Ward | October 18, 2012

Short update

The upside:

It has been a good week.  I found that groove, focused and pounded out the other two outlines for my trilogy.

The downside:

Since I found the groove I was loath to pull myself out of it for any other writing.  Like Blogging and even Twitter. So I’ve been rethinking how much time and effort I want to put into these over the coming months as I has through the writing. No major decision yet.

The really sad side:

I was excited about participating in NaNoWriMo.  I had read of it  in blogs the past two years.  I wanted to participate this mostly for the motivation.   Finals week at college, the bid deadline, the crunch. Last minute panic is a beautiful, powerful thing.

Then I read the rules. Unfortunately my writing process involves not stymieing any creative spurts so I’ve a few scenes already written and they are keepers. Which is against the rules. My outline and character sketches are fine but not that.  I’m ok unbearably angry though.  I plan on participating in spirit this November.  Hopefully next year I can join in all the way.  Good luck to everyone who is officially participating!!

Posted by: H.P. Ward | October 10, 2012

What an interesting development…

Posted by: H.P. Ward | October 9, 2012


Finding inspiration
The post for this week is short, sweet and to the point.  I am a tad too busy for anything else.  ^_^

My top three inspirational websites…in no particular order.  I’ve been getting my archaeology news fix from this site for many years.  It’s also good plot fodder for that opening adventure scene.    This one is full of inspiration and good old fashioned fun.   It’s a joy to browse and then spin up scenarios from the images

Posted by: H.P. Ward | October 3, 2012

Research for writers

Would you rather know a lot about a little or a little about alot?

If you, like me, have decided to journey into writing or if you’ve been there already chances are you have had to incorporate things into your writing about which you originally knew nothing.

Put it this way, if I only wrote about what I knew my subjects/characters would be limited to house cleaner, summer-camp cook, nurse’s aid, archaeologist and medical coder.  The character/profession can each play a part in a novel, or two, but if that’s all I’ve got- it’s already old.

I’m not going to intentionally seek out a new career of my own just for a novel (I haven’t got the brains for biochemistry, computer science or drug dealing.)  Instead, I start researching.  I try to skim the cream off the top of the milk to gain enough of make a character/subject as clear as it can be through my own lens and the lens of the story.

When I think of research my mind goes automatically to college.  The view of Olmestead Hall and the fountain from the top floor of the Bower-Suhrheinrich Library and the smell of dusty tomes.  My mind remembers the view first, not the research. Research has a hard time competing with a nice view.  I was only able to work if I faced away from the windows.  It was nice to know the view was there when my eyes would need the break.  Every 5 minutes.

Research, these days, is more than sequestering in a library.   The internet and electronic copies, for those with access, put information at or near our fingertips.  This week’s blog is dedicated to getting at that information.  I am going to share some sources for beginning researching with and my own odd research methods. I’ll deal with my method first, if you want the links please skip down to the bottom, you might feel saner skipping my stuff.

My research begins after the first plot bunny hops into my head.  There’s inspiration and a bit of an idea. Do I know anything about this subject at all?) If the answer is no I hit the computer the first chance I get after I jot down the particulars in my note book. (Under the heading plot bunnies-you want to nurture these little guys. When they’re happy they make more of themselves…in typical rabbit fashion).
If I know nothing I head to Wikipedia. (As I type this, somewhere a high school English teacher has just felt cold chills on their back.)  I stand by my process, if you know absolutely nothing Wikipedia is a good place to start (especially when the article has the foot/source notes at the bottom), followed quickly by Google or another search engine.  I bookmark (label by subject) and make notes of key points and write out ideas for further research expansion.

Then I start outlining/writing (snippets).  Once my muse has enough it gets going.  The idea expands and sometimes changes into something unrecognizable.  It doesn’t matter if other ideas spring up they get the same internet treatment, notes, etc.   Then my brain plays again. And again.
Once  the key plot points are concrete (i.e. they are a solid part of the story) then I “get serious” about research.

Kind of backwards?? Bad research strategy you say?? Not as bad as spending days researching something only to have the story evolve to the point where the information I spent days collecting doesn’t exist in the story any longer. I may use the info someday but so far I haven’t.   Hence my method.

Now the means.

Another reason I enjoyed the college library was the “free” access to scholarly journals.  JSTOR anyone?  Now my access to JSTOR is almost nil. They do offer a few free things. I have access to the Ulster Journal of Archaeology….working backwards from 1860.  There are a few full access articles for example.  Of course you can pay, but that adds up. I like free.
A more affordable (free) source is the Directory of Open Access Journals:

It offers more with saveable PDF articles!  Example:

But scholarly articles are boooring.

That’s fine, but they are peer reviewed and that means they are more trustworthy than Wikipedia. The real research means you get your information from as reliable a source as you can!  If you are developing a monster virus to turn the world into zombies then learn about how a virus works (even if you’re going to twist it). Learn how a path lab at a hospital works. What safeguards are in place?  It will make your outbreak ground zero as accurate as possible.
Maybe no one will care if the nuances aren’t perfect.  Maybe.  I remember one class in college were we picked apart the movie Gladiator looking for the historical inaccuracies and outright impossibilities. Some/all path lab workers who read the novel might get annoyed at your lack of basic research.  I wouldn’t want to tick off any person with access to a zombie virus.  Maybe that’s just me.

People appreciate it, most of them understand when things are stretched for the sake of plot, but when they are ignored, when huge chunks are ignored it’s just sad. I won’t get started on Indiana Jones.

Let’s not forget the most obvious place to research. It’s also the best one if you are able. Writing about an accountant? Do you know and accountant?  There you go, call them.  Writing about nursing or a hospital and you know a nurse, or you know someone who knows a nurse, network, ask politely for a favor, bribe with dinner or candy. Don’t forget to thank them. It works.  If you’re writing about an archeologist (or a retired one)…bribe me with cookies.

Below are more links to start the research hunt if you haven’t come across them already.  I hope they help.

This was useful, but they might be changing some things around now due to this:

Also this article with more links:

And some very good advice here on interviewing:

I should not have to say it but I will. The library is a good place to research.  If you live near a university or a big city spend a day or more at their book prison too.  If you’re in college, ILL (inter library loan) and print off everything you can think of for your stories before you graduate.  I did.  It might be the only chance you have,unless you attend/attended one of the lucky places at this link:

Good luck and happy writing!

H. P. Ward

Posted by: H.P. Ward | September 26, 2012

On Character

I spent the past couple of weeks mulling over my characters’ character.  Since I’m writing a trilogy these imaginary folks need to develop not only over one book but over the subsequent books. Unless I kill them all in a fit of rage.

Periodically I spend time with them and work through the plot and their place in it as well as their personality.  Their personality is what governs their reactions to the craziness I throw at them. 

Sometimes they don’t want to talk with me.


If you’ve written or a working on your first novel (like me) you’ve probably come across the standard character development exercises.  The 100+ questions for the character to answer.   I have never tried to fill them all out at once (characters change over time… and some of them just don’t have a favorite color and never will.)

Here are a few links to some character development worksheets and sites that I found helpful.  They attack it from a different angle than the standard questions. Sometimes that is all that is needed to open up a new door in a characters mind (or your own).  My crazy mind found them helpful so I wanted to share. 


along with

Another character form…

P.S.  Don’t just stick with the links above. The two sites above have many more helpful pages for writing.  I found them well worth my time.  

Until next week,
Peace and Cookies,
H. P. Ward

Posted by: H.P. Ward | September 19, 2012

On Time Management

I had planned to blog on character developement this week.  Turns out a blog on time management was more appropriate.  I ran out  missused of time to do the other.

How do we fit the writing in with life?  Some writers are lucky enough to be reclusive and/or write full time. (I am very jealous of you lot).

  Most of the blogs I’ve come across point in the other direction. One closer to my own where they are fitting the writing in on the edges. The edge of dawn or those late hours of the night.  Stretching the moments between the kids getting back from school or the lunch break at work to get a few words down on paper.
Everything might be going- not smoothly- but going.  There’s a routine, a rhythm and it works.  Words are going down on paper. The story is coming to life.

Then there’s a hiccup. A snag.  Someone gets sick. There is more work at work than was expected.  Murphy’s law. Strike that. Murphy’s lawyer shows up with a court order for all your spare time.  

Suddenly the edges are crumbling or gone entirely.  It’s nerve wracking because the writing is important, half fun and half burden depending on the day and it has to be pushed aside for the moment or the week. (Unless you are one of the lucky few who can get by on 4 hours of sleep a night. I envy you to no end.)

I had that week, well last week, and the present week. Between sick kiddos, overtime and the crazy of life there wasn’t time for writing since I write on the edge. Often I’m dangling by my fingertips trying to type. It’s depressing. Especially when most writers will tell you, “write everyday.”

So what can be done?

For me, and I’ll be honest here.  I don’t write every day. I can’t.  Here’s the bad part, sometimes I won’t write even when I’m able.  Playing hide and seek with my two year old is more important.  

That’s not to say I don’t work on the story everyday. I do.  Often I cannot get the story out of my head. On the days when I want to be actively writing and can’t, I plot.  I play with the characters in my head.  I run through a scene over and over and over from the antagonists’ pov to the side characters’ pov.  What if this scene came later on in the story? What happens if he doesn’t escape the giant cockroach?

 I might be stuck at a stand still in traffic on the way home from a work meeting but my mind isn’t bound by traffic or the speed-limit.  The same is true for lawn mowing, the house chores, making sure the kiddo doesn’t wander into the road or drown during the bath.  

The trick is to keep that notebook at hand. Not post its, not ever they’re fickle little things.  That notebook needs to be there so when inspiration hits or the pieces fall into place just so you can write that little note or dialogue blurb down.  Maybe you’ll remember it no matter what but if life is so crazy that you don’t have the time to get it down in the computer is it worth the risk to wait?? *

Sometimes I forgo the writing all together because my brain works better and faster with out having to slow it down to write if I’m not on a rough draft.  The notebook is always at hand. Ready for the gold.
Until the edges are larger and I can get my feet planted again, it’s good to have this outlet for the creativity.  It’s good for the story not to stop evolving even if every day can’t be a writing day.

*Make sure the members of your family know which memo pads are yours and not to appropriate them. Designate them by story. Above all else, keep them out of reach of the two year old.

Posted by: H.P. Ward | September 14, 2012

Still a few kinks…

In the search for a good blogging atmosphere I’ve wound up here at wordpress. I plan on keeping my tumblr because I like the frivolity that is tumblr.   However, wordpress offers more features that I need. Features I’ve convinced myself I need.

There are still some kinks learning how it all works to work out.

Plus there is the outlining and writing of my trilogy that I’m knee deep in at the moment.


If you’re the patient type I hope to get the content up and rolling in the coming weeks and months.

Peace and cookies.

H. P. Ward

Posted by: H.P. Ward | September 12, 2012

Playing around with blogs

This is a test. 

Don’t worry it’s open book and graded on a curve.



Posted by: H.P. Ward | September 12, 2012

Hello world!

Welcome to! This is your very first post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or start a new post. If you like, use this post to tell readers why you started this blog and what you plan to do with it.

Happy blogging!


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